January 11, 2021

Being cold isn’t why you get a cold

WHAT:  As cold and flu season ramps up – even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic – some people still follow the old adage of “Don’t go outside without a coat; you’ll catch a cold.”

Libby Richards, an associate professor of nursing in Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences, says that is not necessarily true and explains how people are more vulnerable to catch colds and the flu during the winter.   

EXPERT:  Richards specializes in public and population health nursing, including the importance of vaccinations, flu safety and exercise.

QUOTE: “Many viruses, including rhinovirus – the usual culprit in the common cold – and influenza, remain infectious longer and replicate faster in colder temperatures. That’s why these viruses spread more easily in winter. Wearing a heavy coat won’t necessarily make a difference.”

THE CONVERSATION: Richards authored an article for The Conversation, “Will going out in the cold give you a cold?” The Conversation publishes news analysis pieces from university experts and makes the articles available to other media outlets. News outlets may republish this article at no charge by following Creative Commons guidelines; details are available on the article webpage. 

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Writer: Matthew Oates, 765-586-7496 (cell), oatesw@purdue.edu, @mo_oates

Source: Libby Richards, earichar@purdue.edu, @LibbyAnnR1

Journalists visiting campus: Journalists should follow Protect Purdue protocols and the following guidelines:

  • Campus is open, but the number of people in spaces may be limited. We will be as accommodating as possible, but you may be asked to step out or report from another location.
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  • Correctly wear face masks inside any campus building, and correctly wear face masks outdoors when social distancing of at least six feet is not possible.


Note to journalists: Libby Richards is available for phone or web-based video interviews. Please contact Matthew Oates at oatesw@purdue.edu for information. Journalists visiting campus should follow visitor health guidelines.

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